Metallica's Lars Ulrich pens open letter in tribute to Ronnie James Dio

Plus Download festival renames a stage in Dio's honour

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Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich has paid tribute to Ronnie James Dio, who died of stomach cancer yesterday (May 16) aged 67.

Writing on Metallica.com, Ulrich explained that he has been a lifelong fan of the singer, who was in bands including Black Sabbath and Rainbow.

He said that Dio was "one of the main reasons I made it onto that stage to begin with", before recalling the first time he met the singer as a fan in 1976.

"I made the pilgrimage to the Plaza Hotel to see if I could somehow grab a picture, an autograph, a moment, anything," Ulrich wrote. "A few hours later you came out and were so kind and caring… pictures, autographs and a couple minutes of casual banter. I was on top of the world, inspired and ready for anything."

The drummer added: "When we finally got a chance to play together in Austria in 2007, even though I may not have let on, I was literally transformed back to that little snot-nosed kid who you met and inspired 31 years earlier."

Meanwhile, Download festival organisers have confirmed that they are to rename the Second Stage at this year's event The Ronnie James Dio Stage as a mark of respect.

The festival's Main Stage is also being renamed, becoming The Maurice Jones Stage in tribute to the co-founder of the Monsters Of Rock festival, which was held at the Donington Park location before Download.

Jones passed away last year.

Ronnie James Dio - photo tribute

Ronnie James Dio - classic interview

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